An introduction for non-Swedes reading Love, guilt, and motorcycles

Welcome to a short introduction about Sweden and Swedish traditions. I hope this introduction will make it easier to enjoy and understand the story Love, guilt, and motorcycles

https://www.freepik.com/vectors/map Map vector created by freepik - www.freepik.com

Let’s start with geography

Sweden is part of Scandinavia, in the Northern part of Europe. This means we have cold and dark winters but on the other hand we have bright summer nights. When working with my editor I realized I needed to describe this in more detail. She commented:

“It cannot be night now, can it? In the sentence before you wrote that the sun just rose.”

In summertime the sun rises shortly after it sets in Sweden (if it sets at all, above the Arctic circle it doesn’t). So yes, even though the sun is rising it can still be long before what I would call morning. I hope one day you will experience the midnight sun; it is extraordinary.

Jenny and most of her friends live in and around Gothenburg (spelled Göteborg in Swedish), on the West Coast of Sweden. The city is known for its windy and rainy climate as well as for a population that likes to play with words and who see themselves as more down to earth and hardworking than what they often refer to as the “politicians and snobs” living in the capital Stockholm.

https://www.freepik.com/vectors/map Map vector created by freepik - www.freepik.com

Let’s start with geography

Sweden is part of Scandinavia, in the Northern part of Europe. This means we have cold and dark winters but on the other hand we have bright summer nights. When working with my editor I realized I needed to describe this in more detail. She commented:

“It cannot be night now, can it? In the sentence before you wrote that the sun just rose.”

In summertime the sun rises shortly after it sets in Sweden (if it sets at all, above the Arctic circle it doesn’t). So yes, even though the sun is rising it can still be long before what I would call morning. I hope one day you will experience the midnight sun; it is extraordinary.

Jenny and most of her friends live in and around Gothenburg (spelled Göteborg in Swedish), on the West Coast of Sweden. The city is known for its windy and rainy climate as well as for a population that likes to play with words and who see themselves as more down to earth and hardworking than what they often refer to as the “politicians and snobs” living in the capital Stockholm.

You can find a map of Sweden, with the cities mentioned in the book, here:

Take me to the map!

If we take a closer look at Gothenburg, we will find Utby where Jenny and her friend Agneta live with their parents while their friend Keyvan lives in a fancier part of town called Örgryte. Burgården, the upper secondary school Jenny and her friends go to, is in the centre of town.

Biskopsgården is in a rougher part of the city, especially in the time the book was written. Diego’s father lives here.

 

Slottsskogen is a big park in Gothenburg. It is a popular place to go to, especially in summertime.

Marstrand is an island close to Gothenburg. It is a sailing capital of sorts. Another large island on the west coast is Tjörn, where Jenny’s aunt lives.

If we take a closer look at Gothenburg, we will find Utby where Jenny and her friend Agneta live with their parents while their friend Keyvan lives in a fancier part of town called Örgryte. Burgården, the upper secondary school Jenny and her friends go to, is in the centre of town.

Biskopsgården is in a rougher part of the city, especially in the time the book was written. Diego’s father lives here.

 

Slottsskogen is a big park in Gothenburg. It is a popular place to go to, especially in summertime.

Marstrand is an island close to Gothenburg. It is a sailing capital of sorts. Another large island on the west coast is Tjörn, where Jenny’s aunt lives.

You can find these places and more on this map:

Take me to the map!

Special events and traditions

Graduating from upper secondary school (“ta Studenten” in Swedish) is a big event in most youths’ life and is celebrated in traditional ways. The celebration includes wearing special hats and parents showing up with unusual, sometimes spectacular vehicles to bring the graduate home in. Extended family will also typically hold a big placard with a picture of the graduate as a baby for everyone to see.

For more information, you can look at this blog post, where the author describes the Swedish graduation as “a party from start to finish”.

Another tradition that is typical of Gothenburg is the yearly Cortège on Walpurgis night, a parade performed by the Chalmers University of Technology, drawing big crowds to the city center.

Graduating from upper secondary school (“ta Studenten” in Swedish) is a big event in most youths’ life and is celebrated in traditional ways. The celebration includes wearing special hats and parents showing up with unusual, sometimes spectacular vehicles to bring the graduate home in. Extended family will also typically hold a big placard with a picture of the graduate as a baby for everyone to see.

For more information, you can look at this blog post, where the author describes the Swedish graduation as “a party from start to finish”.

Another tradition that is typical of Gothenburg is the yearly Cortège on Walpurgis night, a parade performed by the Chalmers University of Technology, drawing big crowds to the city center.

 

 

This is what Wikipedia writes about this tradition.

As in many countries, Christmas is an important family tradition. In Sweden, we also celebrate the first, second, third, and fourth advent. Each of these Sundays leading up to Christmas we light one more candle.

 

 

 

This is what Wikipedia writes about this tradition.

As in many countries, Christmas is an important family tradition. In Sweden, we also celebrate the first, second, third, and fourth advent. Each of these Sundays leading up to Christmas we light one more candle.

 

The Newbie Guide to Sweden describes this tradition (and how to survive December in Sweden).

Another big tradition in December is Lucia, celebrated on the 13th of December. Children will dress up as Lucia or “tärnor” in white, or as mini–Santa’s in red. Some will dress up as gingerbread girls and boys. Then the children will sing for their parents. There are also professional choirs singing at Lucia. Lucia has candles on top of her head, bringing light when the winter is at its darkest. That day we eat special buns and drink mulled wine. The night before Lucia has also become a night when youth stay up all night, drinking and partying until the break of dawn, usually ending the partying about the same time as the small children get up to sing the Lucia songs.

The Newbie Guide to Sweden describes this tradition (and how to survive December in Sweden).

Another big tradition in December is Lucia, celebrated on the 13th of December. Children will dress up as Lucia or “tärnor” in white, or as mini–Santa’s in red. Some will dress up as gingerbread girls and boys. Then the children will sing for their parents. There are also professional choirs singing at Lucia. Lucia has candles on top of her head, bringing light when the winter is at its darkest. That day we eat special buns and drink mulled wine. The night before Lucia has also become a night when youth stay up all night, drinking and partying until the break of dawn, usually ending the partying about the same time as the small children get up to sing the Lucia songs.

 

There is typically a rain shower on this day, so even if you eat outdoors (this is considered the “right way” to celebrate), you should be prepared to rush in with plates and glasses in your hands. By the time you are inside the sun is likely to shine again.

You can find many descriptions of Midsummer celebrations online, for instance.

Talking about summer, swimming in lakes and the sea is of course common, and skinny dipping is not uncommon. In Sweden nudity is still seen as natural and rather innocent, even if this innocence seems to be fading.

As the author of this article puts it:

“Swedes don’t curse by talking about sex and they’ve been bathing nude together for centuries.” 

 

There is typically a rain shower on this day, so even if you eat outdoors (this is considered the “right way” to celebrate), you should be prepared to rush in with plates and glasses in your hands. By the time you are inside the sun is likely to shine again.

You can find many descriptions of Midsummer celebrations online, for instance.

Talking about summer, swimming in lakes and the sea is of course common, and skinny dipping is not uncommon. In Sweden nudity is still seen as natural and rather innocent, even if this innocence seems to be fading.

As the author of this article puts it:

“Swedes don’t curse by talking about sex and they’ve been bathing nude together for centuries.” 

There is of course a lot more to be said about Sweden and Swedish traditions, but with this introduction, you will have what you need to immerse yourself in Love, guilt, and motorcycles!

>>> Link <<< to the book.